AZUFF: Deeper Underground Than Ever Before

September 9, 2014 |
A still from "Time Lapse," screening at the AZ Underground Film Festival. Image courtesy AZUFF

A still from “Time Lapse,” screening at the AZ Underground Film Festival.
Image courtesy AZUFF

In the world of film festivals, of which there are literally thousands for audiences to discover, organizers must lure in audiences as well as find unique films to screen. In Tucson, we have an embarrassment of riches to choose from every year, as a wide variety of festivals show films that you would never see, if not for these events. While many Tucson film festivals have established a niche audience and program over the years, one festival is becoming quite well known for its premieres, eclectic films and rabid fans — the Arizona Underground Film Festival (AZUFF), which hosts its seventh edition from Sept. 19-27.

AZUFF founder and organizer David Pike and his screening committee have again assembled an impressive lineup of films that are challenging, thought provoking and wild. Like many festivals, the programmers at AZUFF draw from both submissions, as well as from word of mouth to assemble their lineup. It’s this mixture, with hits from places like the most recent edition of the Sundance and Tribeca film festivals, buzzed about indies, intriguing docs and crazy-odd films from Europe that comprise AZUFF. There’s also the soon-to-be classic Call Girl of Cthulhu, so they pretty much have all their bases covered.

In order to get Zócalo readers primed for this year’s festival, we previewed a few titles. First up is the smart, edgy and suspenseful sci-fi thriller Time Lapse that puts a trio of young people in an uncomfortable position after they find a device that lets them see slices of the future one day in advance. The film has generated quite a buzz on the indie film fest circuit and is guaranteed to leave you thinking about what you would do if in a similar situation. Another intriguing, if not downright odd, addition is the French film You and The Night, which is an existentialist meditation on life, death and sex — kind of like a Twilight Zone version of The Breakfast Club, with nudity and in French. The intriguing short film Life After Manson takes a look at former Manson “family” member Patricia Krenwinkel, who has been in jail since 1970 and now tries to help other inmates get their life together. The film played at the most recent Tribeca film festival and is a real eye-opener.

BFE is another provocative feature film that looks at several teens living in a small town, on one fateful day/night. All their stories, and back stories, intertwine and it’s a heartfelt glimpse at the challenges kids are facing and surviving when adults are largely absent from their lives.

Returning to the aforementioned Call Girl of Cthulhu… Many people know the iconic name of H.P. Lovecraft’s seminal evil creature that has become a pop culture phenomenon, but you’ve never seen anything like this horror/comedy about a prostitute, a naive young artist and a plot to resurrect the evil force from another dimension. It’s a cheesy, fun ride you will not see anywhere else but at AZUFF.

The seventh annual Arizona Underground Film Festival runs Sept. 19-27 with screenings of narrative and documentary features as well as shorts, animated films and experimental movies. Screenings take place largely at The Screening Room, 127 E. Congress St., which now features new seats, projection and an improved snack bar. Tickets are just $8 per film and a limited number of passes are also available for $50. For more information visit

Category: Film